Introduction

This consultation strategy builds on the engagement that AECoW has carried out with stakeholders during its Strategy period 2018 – 2021. It provides the foundation of, and strategic direction for, its next Strategy period 2022 – 25. Please refer to Flow Diagram 1: AECoW Consultation Strategy for an overview.  AECoW intends to broaden its consultation into the wider development, and construction, industries across the UK through various activities under each of its three Priority Action Plans in its 2022 -25 Strategy (Defining & Promoting the Role of an EnCoW; Developing Quality & Training; Providing a Forum for EnCoWs).

AECoW has engaged with stakeholders to define, and promote, the EnCoW role. To this end, we established two Working Groups as vehicles for our consultation:

  1. Regulatory & Planning Group – AECoW Working Group: broadly focuses on planning and regulatory matters and it is chaired by Heads of Planning Scotland (HoPS);
  2. The IEMA – AECoW Working Group: consists of IEMA and AECoW members from a range of backgrounds, including Developers/Clients, Civil Engineering Companies, Principle Contractors, Consultants and Regulators.

AECoW is also consulting other professional bodies, including CIEEM, with the intention of supporting its aims and objectives regarding the Ecological Clerk of Works (EcCoW) role, as well as ICWCI, regarding appointments and commissions of CoWs and ICE regarding construction contracts.

The Regulatory & Planning - AECoW Working Group 

This includes a wide range of stakeholders, such as:

  • Local Planning Authorities (LPAs);
  • Key Agencies;
  • Energy Consents Unit;
  • The Scottish Government;
  • Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA);
  • Association of Local Government Archaeological Offers.

The purpose of the Working Group is to review, clarify, and define the role of an EnCoW, predominantly for planners, by review of planning conditions, with the intention of updating / preparing guidance for LPAs. This is because AECoW believes it is critical to strengthen relevant planning, and legislation, in the first instance, as a key priority. This consultation will be informed by a legal review exercise, which AECoW commissioned. The legal review carried out a review of AECoW’s proposed EnCoW planning condition and it was cognisant of associated of key legal, and industry, terminologies that are frequently used in relation to the role of an EnCoW, such as ‘independent’ and ‘ensure’. This is to clarify contractual, and legal roles, responsibilities/obligations and authority of all involved parties.

This Working Group was initially focused on planning matters, and it is anticipated that the consultation  will be broadened to other Government agencies, such as forestry, highways.

In parallel with this Working Group, AECoW is seeking to engage with regulators across the UK and aims to invite them into the consultation. This primarily relates to the Environment Agency / National Environment Assessment Service (NEAS) regarding its EnCoW Framework, Natural Resource Wales, the Northern Ireland Environment Agency and Republic of Ireland EPA. These regulators will be invited, and encouraged, to share good practice and improve consistency of approaches.

IEMA – AECoW Working Group: Post Consent and Construction Phase Environmental Performance

In parallel with the Regulatory & Planning Working Group, a separate Working Group was established between IEMA – AECOW and an AECoW Management Committee Member acts as a link between the two Working Groups.  The AECoW – IEMA Working Group was established to identify factors impeding post consent and construction phase performance across the UK and Ireland. Using the broad range of experiences and motivations from within the Working Group, the aim is to develop pragmatic, and viable options, and solutions, to support, and improve, construction phase performance through the sharing of good practice.

Key factors that have been identified by the Working Group include:

  • Lack of appropriate resource;
  • Programme and budgetary pressure;
  • Enforcement;
  • Procurement process; and
  • Information overload.

The Working Group aims to develop a suite of guidance documents for each factor in post consent that inhibits environmental performance, and present options / solutions for developers, contractors, regulators and consultants.

It is widely recognised within this Working Group that an appropriately commissioned EnCoW will be a key component in identifying improvement opportunities, as it is known that there are many issues surrounding the role relating to responsibility / authority and appointment of them. As such, this Working Group is actively advising UK Government to increase post consent monitoring and reporting requirements, and the EnCoW is a key role to delivering those requirements. This will support a more robust approach to achieving environmental commitments, and drive up environmental standards and compliance, so developments are delivered more in line with predicted, and consented, environmental effects.